Approximately 1.4 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits the week of June 13, marking the 13th straight week jobless claims have exceeded 1 million. While the number of new claims has fallen in recent weeks from over 6 million new claims in early April, the figures remain staggeringly high. Before the pandemic threw the American economy into chaos, the previous peak was under 700,000 weekly initial jobless claims, nearly 40 years ago.
After the last 13 combined weeks of jobless claims, the cumulative number of Americans who have filed for unemployment since the coronavirus crisis began in earnest in mid-March has surpassed 40 million, or about 25% of the U.S. labor force.
As unemployment claims continue to mount with each passing week, 24/7 Wall St. has been compiling a state-by-state review of jobless claims. Job losses by state range from the tens of thousands to the millions over the 13 weeks beginning on March 15, amounting to anywhere from 11% to more than 50% of each state’s total labor force as measured before the pandemic hit.
While state unemployment rates for May have not yet been released, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released its estimate for the May national unemployment rate, which showed a surprising decline from 14.7% to 13.3%. The decline came with the news that 2.5 million jobs had been added in May after a loss of more than 20 million jobs in April, based on preliminary estimates.
The recent reopening of many states (here is every state’s rules for reopening and social distancing) suggests that state unemployment rates could continue to improve. However, the fact that more than 1 million Americans continue to file for unemployment benefits on a weekly basis — and that the virus is surging in a number of previously relatively unaffected states — suggest that there is good reason for worry that the dire unemployment situation may not materially improve for some time.